Professor Paul G Overton BA, PhD

Professor Paul G Overton

Department of Psychology,
The University of Sheffield,
Floor G, Cathedral Court,
1 Vicar Lane, Sheffield, 
S1 2LT, UK
Tel: (+44) 0114 222 6624
Fax: (+44) 0114 276 6515


BA, PhD (Sheffield)

Research Interests

My research interests largely revolve around the Basal Ganglia (and related structures): a group of nuclei implicated in a wide range of normal brain processes and neurological/psychiatric disorders. At present, there are four main strands to my work:

1. Regulation of dopaminergic neurons by sensory afferents.
Work is currently underway to determine the source of sensory information reaching Dopaminergic Neurons, using a combination of in vivo extracellular electrophysiology, neuroanatomical tract tracing, electrochemistry and behavioural analysis. This work will help to determine the function of the dopaminergic `message´ transmitted to other brain areas – which is currently hotly debated.

2. Neuroadaptations which underlie the effects of drugs of abuse.
The present neuroadaptations work focuses upon the effects of cocaine and d-amphetamine on sensory processing (using electrophysiology and neuroimaging). In particular, we are studying the possibility that an interaction between drugs like amphetamine and sensory processing may underlie the generation of cue-induced craving in Drug Addiction and the therapeutic effects in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

3. Basal ganglia structure and function.
We are currently deriving parameter values from neurons in the main input nucleus of the basal ganglia – the neostriatum – using whole cell patch clamping. These will be incorporated into developing Computational Models of these cells and larger scale models of the microcircuitry of the neostriatum. These studies will move us closer to a functional understanding of the the basal ganglia, and inform ongoing work aimed at developing robotic agents embodying basal ganglia circuitry.

4. Basal ganglia and emotional processing
As well as subserving a motor function, the basal ganglia also subserve a cognitive and an emotional function, and basal ganglia damage in Parkinson's disease can lead to specific problems with the processing of Disgust-related information. In order to understand the role of the basal ganglia in emotional processing more fully, I have recently initiated an initial set of investigations into disgust reactions in normal humans. Future studies will compare these data with data from clinical populations.

Please see the Adaptive Behaviour Research Group

Current grants

  • Overton, P.G. [PI], Gluing behaviours together - 'chunking' in the normal brain and its disruption in Parkinson's disease. Rosetrees Trust (£5450; 2018-2019)
  • Overton, P.G., Billington, T. [PI] Attention and behaviour: Transforming achievement and social inclusion following primary-secondary school transition. ESRC Collaborative studentship (£65.983; 2016-2020).
  • Overton, P.G,., Dommett, E.J. [PI], Singer, B., Byrom, N. Investigating the effects of cardio and non-cardio exercise on adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Rosetrees Trust (£59,282; 2019-2020).

Teaching and administrative duties

I am module organiser for:

  • PSY6306 (Fundamentals of Neuroscience)


A list of key publications can be found below. There is also a full list of publications.

Journal articles